Montoya ends P3, retains IndyCar points lead

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INDIANAPOLIS – Juan Pablo Montoya banked his first road course Firestone Fast Six appearance since his return to the Verizon IndyCar Series on Friday, and in Saturday’s Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, he followed it up with his third podium of the season.

More importantly, he retains the series points lead heading into the rest of the month of May. He has 171 points, with race winner Will Power on 166 and Helio Castroneves on 161.

Given Montoya’s weakness, relatively speaking, on road and street courses this year, he’s rather pleased about the fact he’s come through the opening five rounds on road and street courses leading the pack.

“It’s exciting, to be honest,” Montoya said. “My goal this year was not to lose that many points coming to Indy. I know our strong part of the season should be the ovals, you know what I mean, some of the road courses. I was looking forward to not be that far behind because I know once the ovals start I can make up some points.

“Having the points coming into Indy, it’s encouraging. We were fastest in the open test. The car felt really good, too. I’m pretty happy.”

Montoya started fourth and was lucky to avoid the first corner fracas off the start of the race.

He addressed one question about the run to Turn 1 and basically said “we should have knew this was coming” off a rolling start rather than a standing start, as it was last year.

“It’s the start of the race. Get over it. You know what I mean?” Montoya said. “You put us on the longest straight you can think of, you put a first-gear corner at the end of it, what do you think is going to happen? We’re not that smart (laughter).”

But he added of the day itself, “Yeah, it was good. I mean, we ran good all day. We pushed really hard.

“I got behind a little bit at the start. Behind but not behind. I was on the outside. There was really nowhere to go. (Scott) Dixon spun in front of me. I avoided that. I thought that was really good. It was really good I didn’t get tangled with anybody. But we lost three places.

“Made it tough because you’re behind. Our first pit stop, we had a problem with the right front, so we lost little bit of ground. I stayed behind Simon and Bourdais, made it a little tough. But after that, you know, the next one I passed them. Rahal was the one I didn’t manage to get. I thought we had the same pace.”

Montoya addressed traffic as well during the post-race presser, specifically Barber winner Josef Newgarden who through no fault of his own was stuck in-between Power and either or both of Graham Rahal and Montoya most of the race.

“Even if there was no rules, if you’re more than one lap down, you shouldn’t be getting in the way of the leaders.” Montoya said.

“The guy won last week. He should know better. If they did it to him last week, he lost the race because of that, he would have been crying and moaning.”

At least Montoya wasn’t, and at one point during the press conference noting Rahal’s own ire at Newgarden, he laughed off the fact he wasn’t the most frustrated man in the room.

“Glad somebody is more pissed off than me,” said the points leader.

Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

Cadillac Ganassi Le Mans
Cadillac Racing
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Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

A Ganassi spokesman said the team hopes to run its second entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans but only its WEC team is confirmed (an AOC invitation would be required for the IMSA team). The team also is exploring options but currently plans to have the WEC’s team base of operations in Indianapolis.

Ganassi is the first American-based prototype team to confirm its entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s expected that Team Penske, which raced this year’s Le Mans with a full-time WEC entry in LMP2, also will race Le Mans with Porsche’s new LMDh car that is set for IMSA, but the manufacturer has yet to confirm its driver and team lineup.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.